Retracing His Steps
I really don’t mean to do it. I really don’t. Or maybe I do, I don’t know. What I do remember is this: that in the act of doing it I came to a crossroad. There. I made the decision. It was all me. I chose. There’s nobody else to blame.
But I can’t seem to control it. It feels like it controls me. I just do these things. All the time. I fail, all the time.
It doesn’t even seem worth it anymore. All the struggling, all the fighting. I know I’m going to fail again. Before all this I thought I had it down.
I denied Him. “Never knew the guy” I said. Don’t look at me like that, it was just a slip-up … really! I denied belonging to Him three times.
It grows numb, y’know? After a while it gets easy. We don’t see Him. If I don’t think about Him, He ain’t here. At least that’s what I told myself.
Then it happened. He showed up. In the flesh; face to face. I tried to slink away into the secret place in my mind - my refuge - where He doesn’t exist and I don’t have to face Him.
Then He noticed me. He looked me in the eye. He walked over. I looked at the ground, ashamed of my actions and how I had conducted myself. How I betrayed Him.
He had used the term agape for love: a love without reservation or self-preservation. Love in its highest form.
“I…uh…” I couldn’t do it. The strength of my will was known to Him, but more importantly, known to me. I hadn’t the faith nor the boldness to make another promise counting on my own strength.
“I love (philio) You (as much as a friend loves another)”. That was the best I could offer.
“Then feed my lambs”.
I didn’t know what He meant, but I knew this was hardly the time to talk to Him as if nothing had happened and the good old days were back.
He asked again, “Do you agape me?”. The sounds of His voice revealed the pain He suffered from my betrayal but He reached out to me, forgiving me for all that I did to Him.
“Lord, You know all things. I philio You”. I feared betraying His trust again and chose my words carefully.
“Tend my sheep”.
Then He asked a third time.
“Do You philio me?”
I stood there speechless. I had offered Him so little - so feeble a love - and He didn’t reject it or ridicule me. He met me where I stood.
He, the One to whom I owed everything to, saw my weaknesses and my shame, then took me for who I was. I wept.
“Lord, I philio You”. The words now seemed so rich and so full. They were all I had to offer.
He took me in His arms and told me once more: “Tend my sheep”.
It is said that in the apostle Peter, in his last days, was sentenced to be crucified. His last wish was that he be crucified upside-down because he deemed himself unworthy to die in the same manner as His Lord. His philio had been transformed.
My own journey’s just begun.